Does BJP have a double standard about law and order?
Two different rallies of the party in different states featured people accused in prominent cases.
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, held an election rally in a village near Delhi on March 31. Bisada, in Greater Noida, would seem to be pretty nondescript place to campaign for the general elections. Except for a certain incident in 2015.
On September 28, 2015, 51-year-old Mohammed Akhlaq was dragged from his house and attacked by a 200-strong mob on suspicion of eating beef, triggering communal tension in the village. Akhlaq died before he could be taken to a hospital. His son was also injured by the mob.
The incident grabbed national headlines and kicked quite a bit of controversy. It had even spilled onto the political arena with the BJP being accused using the issue for political gains. The issue further got inflamed when some of accused in the case were booked by the police.
Four of the accused in the case were present in Adityanath’s rally, including the main accused Vishal. Vishal is the son of a local BJP leader. They are all currently out on bail. They were seen cheering from the front row at Adityanath’s rally. While this might not stand out much and could be dismissed as an isolated incident, it’s not the only one.
A similar situation happened in Bihar with Union minister Giriraj Singh. Singh, the BJP candidate from Bihar’s Begusarai, was at an election rally when he spotted sharing the dais with former Bihar minister Manju Verma, who is out on bail in a case related to the Muzaffarpur shelter home where several children were sexually exploited.
She had been lodged in Begusarai jail last year in connection with the recovery of cartridges from her in-laws' residence during a CBI raid as part of the probe into the shelter home case. Verma had resigned as social welfare minister on August 8, 2018, following allegations that her husband had links to Brajesh Thakur, who used to run the shelter home at Muzaffarpur. The sexual exploitation of children in the shelter home came to light after the Tata Institute of Social Sciences of Mumbai submitted an audit report of 110 shelter homes in Bihar in April, 2018. Following the audit, the state government filed a case against 11 people, including Thakur, on May 31, 2018. A medical report confirmed sexual assault of 34 inmates.
While the BJP had distanced itself from Verma, her presence at a function attended by Singh raises serious doubts and caused much speculation about whether she was actually still in the party. These two incidents put together raises serious doubts about how the BJP deals with such incidents. In the case of the Bisada case, the BJP seems to keep the fire burning and profit.
The incident found a mention in Adityanath’s speech. “Who doesn't remember what happened in Bisada? Everybody knows it. How shamefully the Samajwadi Party (SP) government tried to suppress the sentiments then. I can say as soon as our government was formed we got all illegal slaughter houses stopped in one go and ensured its strict implementation,” he said, as quoted by media. He also accused the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of "dividing people on the basis of caste" and practising the “politics of appeasement”, charging them with an attempt to destroy the social fabric of society. Both of these parties are fighting in alliance against the BJP this election.
The statement shows that the BJP still intends to use the issue in the upcoming election. So what do these incidents show? That the BJP seems to be disingenuous about the issue of law and order. Further, it seems to be setting a dangerous precedent of seeming to offer support to those accused in cases which have a communal angle.